The State Finance Council today approved a 12-day extension of the State of Disaster Emergency. Governor Kelly initially requested a thirty-day extension. Instead, the council approved a shorter extension that will allow the entire legislature to review the declaration.
“This action is a balanced solution that keeps in place the Executive Orders Kansans are relying on, while giving their elected representatives in the legislature the chance to address concerns and find a longer-term solution upon reconvening May 21,” said Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe). “We couldn’t put at risk the effect of important Executive Orders such as extended income tax payment deadlines, extensions on drivers’ licenses and vehicle registration renewals, expanded telehealth services for both physical and mental health care, and preventing Kansans who are unemployed from experiencing utility shut-offs. While the Governor’s request for a 30-day extension was too long, it was important to preserve these Executive Orders Kansans are depending on right now.”
Among the Executive Orders that would have expired had the State of Disaster Emergency not been extended:
“Kansans have lost their livelihoods because of this emergency. They can’t get the unemployment benefits they need because the system is broken. In some places, they’re threatened with arrest when they attempt to open their business because they have to feed their families,” said Majority Leader Dan Hawkins (R-Wichita). “This abuse of power cannot continue. On May 21 the legislature is going to ensure oversight on both the state and local levels.”
House members of the State Finance Council also expressed concerns that this state of disaster not be treated with a one size fits all approach.
“COVID-19 is affecting rural Kansas very differently than the urban areas,” said House Appropriations Chair Troy Waymaster (R-Bunker Hill). “Local officials need the flexibility to make the best decisions for their particular area. Continuing with the status quo for 30 more days was not acceptable, I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues to address this issue on May 21.”